If you are reading this post please note that this is a continuation of the previous one. You should definitely read that first =)
I remember feeling a lot of things when my doctor told me that I would be having a cesarian section that day. It was October 2, 2012 and Diego was not supposed to be born just yet. It was about a month too soon. I felt my blood run cold at the thought of surgery but I knew I was in a situation that I had no control over. I had to trust my doctor’s judgment and I knew that delivering the baby was medically necessary.
Things seemed to happen slowly and all at once. I remember calling my mom in a frightened panic and telling her the news. I am sure my husband made similar, albeit less frantic, calls to his family. Initially they were going to wait eight hours before performing the surgery because I had eaten breakfast that morning. Minutes later anesthesia decided they could go ahead right away.
They started me on magnesium sulfate in order to prevent seizures common in patients with preeclampsia. These seizures can be fatal which is why they started me on the magnesium. My blood pressure had remained high and unstable. My doctor told me that I would likely not enjoy this magnesium sulfate business. She was right. It made me itch and I felt a hot, burning sensation on the inside. It’s hard to describe it precisely but it was not pleasant.
There was a brief period during which I had a huge panic attack, I was cold, clammy, hot, and everything in between. I had a feeling of doom and helplessness along with a desire to get out of my own body. It was the stuff of nightmares. I eventually calmed down and briefly fell asleep.
When I was wheeled into the operating room I was struck by how large it seemed. I am assuming that they need to be in order to fit in all of the medical personnel needed to assist both mother and baby. I was helped up onto the table by some nice nurses. One of them introduced herself and gave me a pillow to hug for when the epidural was put in place. I wish I remembered her name. She was a calming presence. It was difficult not to picture the huge needle that I knew would be inserted into my back. I can still remember the sensation of having that needle stuck into my spine. I think if I focus on that memory for long enough I will pass out.
Once that was over and done with I was laid down on the table and one of the nurses used an electric razor to shave me bare. Down there. By this point I didn’t have it in me to be completely humiliated but in retrospect that is kind of embarrassing. Especially because I kept my lawn neat and tidy. Oh well, I guess it wasn’t up to cesarian section standards.
Whenever I recount my experience I often wonder how prudent of me it is to frame it in such negative imagery. I feel the need to point out that this was my own perception, influenced by my fears and general anxiety. Other women have a much different perspective. This is mine and I own up to the fact that these medical procedures are not as terrible as I make them sound. They are performed every single day by dedicated and competent medical professionals. I am in their debt.
The surgery itself was a cacophony of sounds and sensations. My biggest fear was that I would be sliced open before I was numb enough. My legs had gone numb and tingly minutes after the spinal was administered and I couldn’t move my legs but I still wasn’t sure if I was numb or not. My anesthesiologist tested my level of numbness and once they determined I was where I needed to be they got to work. It was at this point that my husband was let into the room. He was wearing a face mask so I could only see his eyes. I think we had a deep, wordlessly silent conversation. When the doctor offered to aim a mirror so that he could see I asked him not to look. I couldn’t risk him passing out on me. I needed his stoic calmness.
While the doctors and nurses did whatever it is they were doing I focused on my breathing. I was working very hard to remain calm. My biggest obstacle during this procedure was my mind. I remember feeling pressure, tugging, pulling, more pressure and then everything stopped. I didn’t hear or feel anything. The only thing in that moment was Diego’s strong cries. In that moment everything was worth it. In that moment I realized I would do it all again. For him. To hear him. Luis was called over to cut the cord and when he came back to my side he had Diego in his arms.
I wish I wasn’t so hyped up so that I could have enjoyed the moment more. I wish I had savored it. Diego was sort of shoved in my face and I remember kissing him before making an attempt at holding him. It was brief and before long the neonatologist explained that they would be taking him to the NICU. My husband went with him.
I love this picture because the neonatologist photobombed it!
This is Diego after being hooked up to all the monitors and being given an IV once he was in the NICU.
Being stitched up was the worst part for me. They really manhandle you and it’s rough. I was given morphine but I was so keyed up that I didn’t feel its effects until much later.
I will finish the rest in tomorrow’s post.